Several hundred Kenyan AIDS activists took to the streets of Nairobi on Thursday to protest at the killing of an HIV-infected boy, whom they say was hacked with a garden fork by his uncle because of his status.
A week after 15-year-old Isaiah Gakuyo was killed in Nyeri in central Kenya, police were still looking for his uncle, who was the orphaned boy’s guardian.
About 300 people demonstrated on Thursday, saying the killing highlighted the stigma faced by those living with HIV/AIDS in Kenya.
“The boy was facing violence on a daily basis,” said Inviolata Mwali Mmbwavi, one of the march organisers who runs a group working with Kenyan AIDS victims. “We don’t want this to happen again,” she added to Reuters.
Gakuyo was often beaten and denied food at home, added Asunta Wagura, executive director of the Kenya Network of Women with AIDS.
“We supported him as he was an unwelcome dependent in the family,” Wagura said, adding that the organization had been trying to find him another home.
HIV/AIDS prevalence in the east African country has declined to seven percent in 2003 from about 10 percent in the late 1990s.
Thousands of Kenyans living with the virus cannot access even the cheapest anti-retroviral drugs, which are too expensive in private hospitals and not available in public ones.
Revision date: June 20, 2011
Last revised: by Andrew G. Epstein, M.D.